Pie Crust Tutorial

A while ago, I drafted a pie crust tutorial. I have since changed my methods a bit. You see, I always make my crusts from scratch. Completely. No machinery. But recently, I tried using a food processor for combining the butter and flour mixture. I was surprised to find the dough springier, for lack of a better word. And the marbling that I prize was still present, so the crust came out flaky.

Anyway, homemade is definitely the way to go, and it’s not difficult or particularly time-consuming. It really does make a world of difference. Store bought crusts usually have shortening and I can stand that stuff. It just tastes awful to me. I have read many times that the perfect crust is made of a mixture of lard and butter, but since I don’t usually have lard lying around, I make do with all-butter crusts.

Pie Crust Tutorial
 
Crust 1 1/4 C of all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp of salt
1 Tbsp of sugar
1 stick of butter
1/4 cup to 1/2 Cup of ice-cold water
It is very important that both the water and butter are super cold. If the butter is all melty, your crust won’t be as flaky in the end.
Step 1: Combine flour, salt, and sugar in a bowl. So far, so good, right?


Step 2: Cut the butter into chunks and plop them into the flour mixture. At this point you can use a food processor to mix these ingredients until you get a cornmeal-like texture. I usually do this by hand. One could say that this makes it taste better (because of love, or whatever). Actually, the real reason is that, by hand, I am more likely to leave larger chunks of butter. Towards the end, when you are rolling the dough, this butter will “marble” with the rest of the dough, making the result MORE FLAKY.

Step 3: Add water, in increments, and form a ball. The ball should be a little sticky, just a little. Refrigerate this for about half an hour.

Just a tad sticky
Flour the surface to prevent sticking


Step 4: Remove from the fridge and roll out with a rolling-pin, or any long, cylindrical object (I have used a wine bottle in the past).Make sure to flour the rolling-pin, dough, and counter surface liberally, or else you’ll have a heck of a time getting that dough off the counter. And, not to insult your intelligence, but make sure to roll out the dough so it covers the pie dish, with some hanging over.

Roll out slowly, turning dough as needed
Check out the marbling


Step 5: Place the dough on the dish. Tuck in the edges for a neat look and style them for effect. My favorite technique is to crimp the edges using a pinching method with the pointer and thumb of my left hand, and the thumb of my right hand. Braids are also very nice, but time-consuming. Maybe I’ll do a post on that later.

Some will be leftover
Pinching method


Step 6: Poke the bottom of dish with a fork several times and put in the freezer for AT LEAST a half hour, preferably an hour. Crusts will keep for a few weeks if you want to make them ahead of time.

The traditional rim
Et voilà!


Step 7: Ta da! Now fill the inside!

Meringue makes for a pretty picture

 

Blueberry Pie

I made a blueberry pie a few days ago. Nothing special, but the crust came out amazing and I want to show it off. I also want to announce the crust tutorial I’m planning to post in the coming week. It took me a while to get this level of flaky crust perfection, and I’m ready to share!

Just the crust

Just the crust

I used the Pioneer Woman’s blueberry pie recipe and tweaked it to my taste. Not many changes really. I added half a teaspoon of cinnamon and was liberal with the lemon juice.

Egg wash

Egg wash

Raw sugar to add some delicious texture

Raw sugar to add some delicious texture

Finished product

Finished product

 

Passionfruit Meringue Pie

Passionfruit is my absolute favorite of all flavors. You don’t usually see it in pies, but I am determined to make it a thing. A friend and I came up with this recipe and “tested” it three times. You know, for science.  It’s a special twist on the traditional lemon meringue pie . A little tart, a little sweet, and the buttery, flaky crust balances it all out.

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Passionfruit Meringue Pie + crust tutorial

Crust

  • 1 1/4 C of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1 Tbsp of sugar
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1/4 cup to 1/2 Cup of ice-cold water

It is very important that both the water and butter are super cold. If the butter is all melt-y, your crust will not be as flaky in the end.

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Filling

  • 1 Cup sugar
  • 5 Tbsp cornstarch (thickener)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 Cup milk
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Cup passionfruit pulp ( I used the Goya brand, found in the frozen food section of supermarket in a Hispanic neighborhood)
  • 1/2 lemon

First things first. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Pre-bake the crust using some kind of blind weight, like beans, over some foil for about 15 minutes, until golden edges appear. We used a pot as a weight. Don’t knock it till you try it.

Lower the temp to 350 for baking the pie.

In a saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Slowly mix in the milk until the cornstarch dissolves. Mix the egg yolks in a separate bowl. Let the milk mixture come to a boil gradually.

Being careful not to cook the eggs, mix about a cup of the milk mixture into the eggs, then pour this mixture back into the saucepan. Add passionfruit pulp. Let simmer while whisking for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add butter. Whisk with a squeeze of lemon juice to brighten it up.

Meringue

  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 Cup sugar

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The meringue was hand-whisked. You pretty much whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar over a pot of boiling water (no direct heat!) and add the sugar gradually until you get this marshmallow-y and delicious white goop.

Take the pre-baked pie shell and fill it with the thickened passionfruit mixture. It should set pretty nicely. Smooth the meringue over the top and bake for 20 minutes, or until the meringue has a nice tan.

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Happy Halloween!

     This being my favorite holiday, I thought I’d whip up a quick post to show you something I made this week. I tend to go to a lot of Spanish food stores and I have found some interesting desserts and candies. By far one of the oddest is this pistachio gelatin:

Gelatina

     It’s not the flavor so much as the preparation. You add milk to it instead of water. I wouldn’t say it tastes like pistachios, but it has a pleasant candy flavor and it’s not too sweet.

 Pistachio Gelatin Zombie Brains

  • 1 Package of pistachio gelatin
  • 4 Cups of whole milk
  • 1 fun mold

     According to the Instructions you just boil the milk, add milk, and let it sit in the fridge until it sets. I brush the mold with a little bit of oil to make the gelatin come out easier. It comes out perfect every time.

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Guava Apple Crumble Pie

     On a little island in the Caribbean there is a quaint little cement house with my name inscribed in the concrete of the back porch. My grandfather wrote it there many years ago, perhaps thinking that I would live there someday, or at least visit often. Well, I no longer live in the balmy Caribbean and most of my close family has settled in the US. The house has largely become a distant, dreamy memory.

     What does all this nostalgia have to do with this blog? Well, the back porch that I mentioned is surrounded by fruit trees and other tropical plants. Guavas, acerola cherries, sugar cane, plantains, limes, oranges, avocados; you name it, it grows there. Those are the flavors I grew up with, even though I spent most of my life in the US.

     I like to think that by working on these recipes I’m melding two culinary traditions that are important to me; something in between what I would have eaten at the little cement house and what I learned when I first started baking in college…and it tastes a little something like this:

Not the best picture, granted, but by far the recipe I'm the most proud of.

Not the best picture, granted, but by far the recipe I’m the most proud of.

Guava-Apple Crumble Pie

An American classic with a streusel topping and  a tropical twist.

Crust:

     My go-to recipe is from the Joy of Baking website (cut in half because we only need the bottom crust). It never fails, but you must have the technique down. I’ve finally gotten it down after about two years of self-taught baking. I’ve gone through the trial and error so you don’t have to! It’s not difficult, it just takes practice. I’ll write a post later with tips for the perfect, flaky crust. I’ve adjusted the salt to my taste.

  • 1 1/4 Cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tablespoon granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 Cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled, and cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces
  • 1/4 to 1/2 Cup ice water

Filling:

  • 2 Large baking apples
  • 3-4 Guavas
  • 1/2 Cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2-1 Tablespoon lemon juice

Streusel Topping:

  • 1 1/4 Cup flour
  • 1/2 Cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 Cup butter, melted

Instructions:

     Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. Mix all the dry ingredients for the pie crust. Incorporate the butter chunks by hand (my preferred method), or using a food processor. The consistency should resemble corn meal. Add some cold water until the dough sticks together in a nice ball. Using a generous amount of flour, roll out the dough and place on the pie dish. Shape the edges, prick the bottom with a fork and leave in the freezer for 30 minutes.

     For the filling, mix the dry ingredients and set aside. Cut the apples and guavas into thin slices. Mix with the dry ingredients throughly and then add the vanilla and lemon juice.

     Mix the dry ingredients for the Streusel and pour in the melted butter until the mixture is well incorporated.

     Pour filling into the pie crust, and place streusel on top. Cover pie loosely with foil. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 375 and continue baking for an additional 35 minutes.

Guava Apple Crumble 2

Up Next: Passionfruit Meringue Pie

Here, we like to sew and eat pie.

     A year before I decided to launch this little project, I didn’t have much experience with recipe making or needle work. I knew the bare basics because my mother took care to teach me a little of everything.

     It wasn’t until recently that I decided to really immerse myself in all things fiber and baking related. I am especially obsessed with using vintage techniques. There’s something very methodical and calming about doing things the old fashioned way. It really sparked an interest in seeing what else I could learn. I picked up knitting needles and sewing needles and expanded on the basics that my mother taught me. I’m stumbling along trying to teach myself these skills, but since I’m a teacher I thought it would be useful to share my ups and downs with people who are trying to learn the same things.

     Recently, I taught myself the basics of dressmaking and crocheting and I hope that in the next year I’ll be able to tackle more complicated projects.

This is an example of the type of project I would like to tackle in the future. It's Butterick 5832. I own this pattern and look longingly at the instructions every once in a while. Maybe next year you'll see me in a handmade Civil War costume!

This is an example of the type of project I would like to tackle in the future. It’s Butterick 5832. I own this pattern and look longingly at the instructions every once in a while. Maybe next year you’ll see me in a handmade Civil War costume!

     Now that I am a little more familiar with the intricacies of my new hobbies, it has become easier (and more important) for me to tackle my many domestic projects thoughtfully. This blog is a way to document my journey and share what I learn along the way!